Wednesday, April 23, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

2013, d. Cody Cameron & Kris Pearson - redbox

David's Take on this gratuitous and wasted sequel wasn't much of a take, and at the same time was pretty close to the perfect take on a film that squandered every potential.  The first CWACOM remains utterly brilliant, one of the best animated comedies ever made.  I've seen it bordering on 20 times at this point and still do not tire of it.  I've brought it up multiple times recently, both in my review of The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, since its success was due in no small part to director's Phil Lord and Chris Miller's comedic sensibilities, which fit into place around a profoundly unique cast of SNL (Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Will Forte) veterans and pop culture icons (Mr. T, Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris).  It was a film about an awkward scientist man-child named Flint who finally builds a contraption that actually works, this one converting vapor in the air into food.  That premise permitted the film to explore Flint's tense dynamic with his straight-laced fisherman father, as well as a budding relationship with a weather reporter Sam Sparks, not to mention his relationship with the rest of the denizens of his small, isolated Sardine-supported island town.  It was a coming-of-age/arrested-development tale, a G-rated, absurd 40-Year-Old Virgin.

After the events of the first movie, where the The Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (or FLDSMDFR) seemed to have been destroyed and the island abandoned, we catch a brief glimpse of most of the cast in their new, relocated life.  But the FLDSMDFR wasn't destroyed and has instead evolved, creating food-animal hybrids and a new ecosystem for the island.  A megalomaniac scientist operating an omnipresent Google-to-the-extreme-style company has a mind to steal the machine for his own ends but needs Flint's experience to actually gain control of it.  Flint and his rag tag group of friends return to the island to stop the threat of the machine and it's monstrous food beasts only to learn that they're only being protective and not threatening world domination.

As David noted, it's a riff off Jurassic Park 2, but I was hoping for more of a Jurassic Park 1 vibe (wouldn't it have been more interesting had Flint, Sam and company returned to the island to find it a theme park and have to discover the horrifying source of all the food-animals?).  Even still the basic plot isn't at fault, it's the terrible undermining of the characters that we came to know, particularly in Flint's dad, who acts nothing like he did in the first film, and the lack of purpose for characters like Manny, Sam and Brent.  There's very little for them to do in this picture except be upset with Flint only to shortly reconcile with him.  There's also the  theme of vegetarianism underlying the story, but then the film ends on the characters fishing, so I don't know what's up with that.  It lacks conviction and, generally, it's just not very good.   With only the story credited to Lord and Miller (likely them just saying "Picture Jurassic Park 2 but with the FLDSMDFR making food-animal hybrids" and going back to Jump Street) it's a modest failure in the hands of a novice directorial team a mish-mash of writers.  About the only thing that worked for me were the copious food-based puns ("there's a leek in the boat!" still cracks me up).